Andrea Tóth is a sociologist at the Institute for Political Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the ELTE University in 1991. Tóth is the founder of the Feminist Network, centered in Budapest, and has given lectures on feminism in Hungary at several international conferences.
"I have worked as a research fellow in the Institute for Political Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest since 1992. My research is in women and politics. I work on the representation of gender and images of the candidates in the political advertisements of the electoral campaigns in Hungary in the 1990s. I am interested in the differences between men and women politicians in their images and representations in the media. I find that women who are elected or who want to participate in public office perform traditional roles and the images of women politicians are very stereotypical.
I also do research on the participation of women in the politics of Postcommunist Hungary. In Eastern Europe women are conspicuously absent from the political scene. There are very few women in decision-making, either in government, parliament, or political parties. I show the aspects which form the new democracy out of a masculine model. In Postcommunist Eastern Europe the economic and political changes have resulted in a significant drawback in the positions of women. The most evident signs are in their withdrawal from the labor market, from the stages of social and public life, as well as the strengthening of traditional feminine role models or the questioning -- and in some places even the restrictions -- of abortion rights. Women have not been able to recognize their interests, or they recognize them very slowly, when they are excluded from politics and public life. The severe economic crisis and the social and political problems of the transition in Hungary have made women's issues invisible and insignificant in people's eyes. Women's low participation in politics is explained by researchers as a result of exhaustion caused by the everyday struggle to support their families and also as an escape from the compulsory participation in public life, which was expected by the communist ideology.
However, I find that there is an ambivalence in these societies, that women's position seems to have become stronger over the past decades, namely that their level of education and professional training is gradually higher and higher, the rate among active wage earners is almost the same as that of men, and also that the number of women in management positions is increasing. Women's income in family budgets is not negligible. Yet, all of this does not result in a change in traditional norms concerning gender roles. Rather stereotypical prejudices prevail in Hungary and Eastern Europe about women. This can be one of the obstacles in the way of political participation, and also might be one of the causes of the isolation of feminist movements in these societies." (written by Andrea Tóth)
"Lehet-e egy fiúból miniszterelnök? A nök részvételének változásai az európai országok döntéshozatalában." ("May a boy become Prime Minister? Changes in women's participation in the decision-making process of European countries.") INFO-Társadalomtudomány No. 32, Nötudomány, (May 1995), pp. 47-56.
"Le portrait du candidats, Le construction des genres das les campagnes électorales de 1990 et 1994 en Hongrie." Cahiers du GEDISST NO. 12, "Trasition en Turope de l'Est: Main-Ouvre et citoyennes de seconde zone?" (1995), pp. 91-101.
"Demokrácia-nök nél;lkül? A nök képe az 1994-es képviselöválasztási kampányban." ("Democracy without women? The image of women in the campaigns of 1994"), in A nök részvétele a politikai és a közéletben. (Papers of the Conference on Women in Political and Social Life). Budapest: European Council, 1995, pp. 67-77.
"Az 1990-es parlamenti választások plak-tjai és röplapjai, A nemek magjelenitése és a képviselöjelöltek önprezentációja." ("Posters and leaflets from the parliamentary elections of 1990. The presentation of the sexes and the self-presentation of the candidates"), in Törésvonalak és értékválasztások. Ed. István Balogh. Budapest, 1994, pp. 227-271.
"Das Selbstbild der Frau in der ungarischen Gesellschaft," in Frauen in Osteuropa. Ed. Mechtild M. Jansen and Regine Walch. Wiesbaden: Hessische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung, 1993, pp. 23-31.
"In addition to research, I organized a lecture series ("Women in Society") at ELTE University, Budapest in 1990, which constituted the first women's studies course at ELTE University. The participants of the course founded the Feminist Network, which has been working as an officially registered, non-governmental organization (NGO) since June 1990. Its aims are to promote the equality of men and women in Hungarian society, to fight against all forms of discrimination, and to increase awareness of women's issues and situation. In 1995 I was elected to represent the Feminist Network at the NGO Forum on Women in Beijing, China and since then we have organized (with other Hungarian women's NGOs) a workshop on the NGO Forum, called "History of Hungarian Feminism."
As a scientific advisor, I contributed to the foundation of the Academy of Hungarian Women (organized by the Association of Hungarian Women NGO). The training aims to promote the participation of women in political and public life and to train them for a political role. It has been functioning since September 1997. Now I conduct lectures on women and politics as part of this training. Since 1990 many researchers have come to work on women's and gender studies in Hungary. They have organized the section, "Feminism," of the Hungarian Sociological Association in 1995, of which I was secretary in 1995-1996." (written by Andrea Tóth)
You can reach the Feminist Network at this postal address: Feminist Network, 1399 Budapest, Pf. 701/1092, HUNGARY.
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